The Link Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Diabetes

Curr Diab Rep. 2016 Jun;16(6):54. doi: 10.1007/s11892-016-0740-8.


Exposure to adversity in childhood (adverse childhood experiences [ACEs]) is linked to a number of chronic diseases in adulthood, yet there is limited research examining the impact of ACEs on diabetes. The current review sought to examine the association between ACEs, other trauma exposure or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, and risk for diabetes. Thirty-eight studies are reviewed. Unlike in other diseases, several studies in diabetes show a threshold-response versus a dose-response relation, while other studies show a relation between greater abuse severity and diabetes risk. There were mixed results for studies examining abuse type and frequency. Chronic or comorbid PTSD was also related to increased diabetes risk among veterans, but in community samples, only trauma exposure predicted diabetes risk. While the research is still limited, diabetes researchers and clinicians should consider screening for ACEs and examine severity and frequency across abuse type as a predictor of both diabetes and poor diabetes outcomes.

Keywords: Adverse childhood experiences; Diabetes; Maltreatment; PTSD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic